Pop & Hiss

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Spin the red circle: Pearl Jam partners with Target

June 1, 2009 |  3:17 pm


A band that long shirked doing music videos, and once took a stand against Ticketmaster, has now linked with big box retailer Target for its upcoming album, according to reports. Target is said to be just one of Pearl Jam's multiple partners on the album, as the band goes without a label after working inside the Sony system for nearly 20 years.

The news hit the Web on antiquet.com last week, and Billboard's Bill Werde posted details today.

But fans, relax! Unlike some other artist-retail partnerships, Pearl Jam's linking with Target won't be an out-and-out exclusive, which should lessen the sting for those upset at the corporate pairing.

Werde quotes Pearl Jam's long-time manager Kelly Curtis as saying, "Target ended up allowing us to have other partners." He also quoted Curtis as saying that the big-box retailer was "cool enough to realize that little independent record stores are not their competition."

Specific details aren't outlined, but hopefully that means the CD, tentatively titled "Backspacer," will be available at key independent retailers such as Seattle's Easy Street, where Pearl Jam once recorded a live EP. Additionally, the album will be for sale via Pearl Jam's Ten Club.

It will be interesting to gauge how Pearl Jam fans react to the news. The band has long been protective of its namesake, forgoing traditional music biz promotional tactics such as music videos. Additionally, the group has earned the deep admiration of fans for a commitment to social causes, and for taking a stand against Ticketmaster in the mid-'90s.

The band has a tight relationship with its audience — check Pearl Jam's official bootleg releases — and its fan base is a protective lot. In 2007, when frontman Eddie Vedder, who Pop & Hiss is proud to note is a Chicago Cubs fan, performed at a private Hollywood concert to generate Oscar hype for the music of "Into the Wild,  I covered the event, and received numerous e-mails from fans dismayed that Vedder would perform a concert that was closed to the public.

Seeing veteran artists link with mass retailers is nothing new. The Eagles and AC/DC have had great success doing so, and Prince recently partnered with Target for the release of his three-disc set. Yet it sounds like Pearl Jam's relationship is one that will grant the band more freedom, as the aforementioned artists did not allow other North American outlets to sell the album.

— Todd Martens

Photo credit: Kevin P. Casey / For The Times